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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How Much Does Cleaning Up Illegally Dumped Crap Cost San Francisco?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 12:15 PM

click to enlarge Take the couch. Hell, take the hipster, too. - URBAN SNAPS
  • Urban Snaps
  • Take the couch. Hell, take the hipster, too.

According to the city, the couch you benevolently leave on the street so some couchless person can cart it off may be costing San Francisco millions.

Actually, that's not true. People leave couches on the street because they're lazy. People take them because they're "frugal." But the part about costing the city millions -- that's possible.

A goodly number of the items left on the street that conveniently disappear after a few days weren't hauled away by college students but were instead collected by Department of Public Works employees on the city's dime. The city today launched a "Don't Leave It On The Sidewalk" campaign aimed to curtail illegal dumping. Crap left to rot on the street, both Mayor Gavin Newsom and a bevy of other city officials claim, costs San Francisco "millions of dollars." But how much?

According to the DPW, the yearly bill tops $4 million. This comes from two manners of leaving crap around. The first is the aforementioned sprinkling of worn detritus on the public right of way for the supposed benefit of apocryphal students. The second is the large-scale dumping of toxic materials in the city's more industrial zones -- such as the repeated discharging of toxic roofing materials in Bayview throughout September and October.

Apparently, this crap doesn't collect itself. Or pay for its own removal.
  • Apparently, this crap doesn't collect itself. Or pay for its own removal.
DPW Spokeswoman Christine Falvey is unsure how much of the supposed $4 million in illegal dumping costs hark from household objects and how much stems from big dumps like the toxic roofing material. She said she'd do what she could to meet SF Weekly's request of written documentation of these costs.

In any event, $4 million is a fairly significant chunk of the DPW's streetcleaning budget. In fact, that's about how much of a hit the department will take between this year and next. Fiscal 2010's streetcleaning and graffiti removal costs are set at $38,513,289. That'll drop next year to $35,918,323.

San Franciscans can keep costs down by following the law and signing up for garbage service; calling large-object removal when they need to dump a fridge or couch (free when you have garbage service); and reporting large-scale illegal dumpers.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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